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University Libraries

Musical Theater Resources

MTR210 Fall 2013

How to find

General Note about songs from musicals

It’s important to remember when searching for songs from musicals, whether for scores or recordings, that many songs that originate as part of a musical later get adopted as standards that enter the popular and jazz repertoire. When searching for scores this means that many songs from musicals can be found in various anthologies of popular music and fakebooks. For recordings, it means that many songs from musicals have been recorded in renditions that may no longer exactly represent the song’s original role in the musical in which it was first used. This is especially true of instrumental renditions as found in jazz recordings. You will need to pay close attention to what you find in the catalog in order to see that it matches your need.

Finding Music: Scores and fakebooks for musicals and songs

All of the categories below (except fakebooks) contain vocal lines, lyrics, and the original accompaniment reduced for piano. Full orchestral scores and accompanying instrumental parts for musicals are rarely published for sale. They are usually available only for rental use. This helps insure that performances are done only when the proper licenses have been obtained.

The most frequently used call numbers for scores of musicals and songs are:

Complete musicals or selections from one musical or composer:

M933… arranged alphabetically by composer and then title

M91=01 used for vocal scores of operas. Gilbert& Sullivan are classed with operas

Selections from assorted musicals:

M933 A3… arranged by editor or title of the collection

M933 A3... includes The Singer’s Musical Theatre Anthology M933 A3 W171 s

Collections of songs, with piano accompaniment (popular, some musicals):

M7 A3…

Popular songs, with no accompaniment, just lyrics and chord symbols:

Music Library Fakebook collection (Circulation Desk), indexed online at

Finding lyrics for musicals

There are two main places to look for lyrics (librettos) for musicals:

1. Under call number ML50 (or 48 or 49) in the general book section of the Music Library:

Look under ML50 … then alphabetically by composer, then title of musical


Musicals are mixed in with operas within the ML50 classification

This section is a mix of libretti (sung portions only), and playbooks (with dialogue and stage directions)

ML48 and ML49 are collections—sometimes a libretto will be in a collection but not available separately (or vice versa).

2. Recordings: CDs and even some records sometimes have the complete lyrics printed in the booklets or liner notes. These booklets sometimes also include information about the composer, performers, theater, original cast, or the history of the particular musical.

Note: These are kept at the Music Library Circulation Desk. You can check the library catalog online or ask for help when you come in to the library.

Finding Reference sources

    • New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians / Grove Music Online

      REF ML100 .N48 2000. Online: UB Libraries—Find Library Materials—Resources by Subject—Music—Top ResourcesGROVE Music Online

The article “Musical” has 4 sections tracing the development and evolution of the genre: 1) to 1918; 2) 1919-1942; 3) 1943-1959; 4) 1960-2000. New Grove also has entries for composers. The strongest aspect of New Grove as a research tool is its compilation of bibliographies. Check the bibliography listed at the end of each article to help you find additional relevant texts. Grove Music Online also has links to related articles, including performers, arrangers, choreographers, librettists, and composers.

  • Oxford Companion to the American Musical

    REF ML 102 .M88 H593 2008

    Brief entries on shows, performers, composers, lyricists, producers and choreographers. It covers the American musical in the theater, on film and on television.

  • The Historical Dictionary of the Broadway Musical

    REF ML 102 .M88 E94 2008

    Entries cover people, places, events, musicals, and critical reception, 1866-2006. Contains a useful chronology at the beginning and bibliographies at the end.

  • Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre

    REF ML 102 .M88 G3 2001

    Histories of shows, composer and performer biographies.

  • Broadway Musicals, 1943-2004

    REF ML102.M88 S74 2006

    Contains a chronological listing of opening seasons. Includes descriptions of 2844 shows and indexes of songs and personnel.

  • Who Sang What on Broadway, 1866-1996

    REF ML107.N44 B46 2006

    Comprehensive list of shows and performers, lists each song sung by each performer, with index by show and song title.

  • American Song: the Complete Musical Theatre Companion

    REF ML128 .M78 B6 1996

    4,800 shows from 1877-1995 with cast lists and main crew of the original productions, the opening and closing dates, and all numbers in the order that they appeared—including numbers that were cut in later productions. The substantial index of songs identifies the musicals in which they were used.

  • New Broadway Song Companion

    REF ML128 .M78 D48 2009

    Lists more than 300 musicals in alphabetical order. Every number in each show is listed, and includes its vocal range, and its style of music (e.g., uptempo, ballad, moving ballad, waltz). Indexes of solo songs are divided into vocal range. Duets, trios, quartets, choruses are separately indexed.

  • The musical : a research and information guide

    REF ML128 .M78 E84 2011

    Useful for overall research into history and background of musicals.

  • Guide to Critical Reviews: Part II The Musical, 1909-1974

    REF ML128.M78 S342 1976

    Now outdated (only covers reviews published through 1974), it lists musicals with all references to newspapers and periodicals that posted reviews of them.

  • The great song thesaurus

    REF ML128.S3 L4 1989

    List of song titles with brief entries about their origins and uses. It includes that includes songs from musicals.

  • From studio to stage : repertoire for the voice

    REF ML128 .V7 D67 2002
    Contains chapter on Musical Theater Selections with a list of songs with annotations about range, tempo, difficulty level, voice type, and synopses.

  • Off Broadway Musicals, 1910-2007

    REF ML 1711.8 .N3 D54 2010

    Casts, credits, songs, critical reception, performance data, and notes of over 1,800 off-Broadway shows. Arranged by show title, with song and name indexes, chronology, grouping by theme, and bibliography

  • Chronology of American Musical Theater(3 vol.)

    REF ML1711.8 .N3 N67 2002

    Lists shows, 1750-2001, by the year of their production, along with personnel, cast of characters, and songs. The shows include burlesque, comic opera, revues, musicals, rock operas, and of course, musical plays. Revivals are listed only if extensively revised from original productions. Indexes by show title, songs, and selected performers--principal roles.

  • Broadway: Its History, People, and Places, An Encyclopedia

    REF F128.65.T5 B56 2004 [Shelved after all the ML books in Reference]

    All entries refer to the 10 blocks of Broadway, New York’s historic theater district: producers, composers, lyricists,mplaywrights, shows, theater buildings. The introduction chronicles the rise of Broadway and Times Square.

Finding books about musicals, including histories of Broadway, etc.

On the library shelves (listed by classification number (call number)b>

ML156.4 Discographies under .M8 and .046

Sample titles:

  • Movie musicals on record: a directory of recordings of motion picture musicals, 1927-1987

    ML156.4 .M6 L9

  • Broadway's prize-winning musicals: an annotated guide for libraries and audio collectors (1993)

    ML156.4.M8 M54

  • The Broadway musical, a complete LP discography (1980)

    ML156.4 .O46 H6

  • The collector's guide to the American musical theatre

    ML156.4.O46 H8 1984

  • Show music on record: the first 100 years

    ML156.4.O46 R4 1992

ML410…Biographies of composers (arranged alphabetically by composer)

ML420… Biographies of singers (arranged alphabetically by performer)

ML1711… Books about musicals and opera

ML1711.8.N3 Books about musical theater and opera specific to New York City, including histories of Broadway)

Sample titles:

  • Enchanted evenings :the Broadway musical from Show boat to Sondheim and Lloyd Webber

    ML1711.8.N3 B56 2009

  • The rise and fall of the Broadway musical

    ML1711.8.N3 G727 2004

  • The Broadway musical :collaboration in commerce and art

    Lockwood ML1711.8 .N3 R67 1993

ML2054 Musical theater as a form

Sample titles:

  • Broadway musicals : a hundred year history
    ML2054 .L48 2002
  • The Broadway musical : a critical and musical survey
    ML2054 .S93 2002

MT820 Vocal technique: General works

MT821 Physiology and care of the voice

MT825 Vocal and singing methods

MT883 Diction and pronunciation

MT955-956 Musical theater production and performance

Sample titles:

  • Staging a musical

    MT955 .W35 1999

  • From Assassins to West Side Story : the director's guide to musical theatre

    Lockwood Library MT955 .M595 1996

  • Acting in musical theatre : a comprehensive course

    MT956 .D44 2008

  • Get the callback : the art of auditioning for musical theatre

    MT956 .F56 2009

  • Musical theatre training : the Broadway Theatre Project handbook

    MT956 .M38 2009

  • Acting the song : performance skills for the musical theatre

    MT956 .M67 2008

Other places: Keyword searches may yield items about musical theater such as essays within books that as a whole contain subject content broader than just musical theater

Titles not entirely related to music. Some of these are housed in the Music Library but most of them are in Lockwood Library.

Dance titles:

Broadway, the golden years : Jerome Robbins and the great choreographer-directors : 1940 to the present

GV1785 .A1 L65 2001

PN2061 Acting (and other call numbers)

PN2277.N5 Broadway theater including non-musical productions

Sample titles:

  • Broadway plays and musicals : descriptions and essential facts of more than 14,000 shows through 2007

    Lockwood Reference PN2277 .N5 H573 2009

  • Broadway song and story : playwrights/lyricists/composers discuss their hits

    Lockwood PN2277 .N5 B64 1985

Also, be aware that you can browse call numbers in the online Libraries’ Catalog

Finding performing rights for musicals

Books such as Music Business Handbook (REF ML3795 .B33 2001) and This Business of Music (REF ML3790 .S5 2007) contain information about licensing and contracts. There are also many online sites with information, including, which has several pages that contain helpful information.

Finding articles in print and in online databases

Music content Go to UB Libraries—Find Library Materials—Resources by Subject—Music—Databases

The Music Index

RILM abstracts

General content

Explore the general databases for access to sources in other subjects and the mainstream press, such as the New York Times. You can get to Project Muse and Academic Search Complete from Music—Databases. Factiva is a great source for newspapers. You can search Academic Search Complete, Music Index, and RILM simultaneously in EBSCO.

What if we don’t have the whole article in a journal or online?

If the database doesn’t link you to the full text, first check Electronic Journals (under Find Library Materials) for the journal title, then search the Libraries’ Catalog for the print journal title. If we don’t have the issue you need, or it is at the Annex, you can put a request in through Delivery+. If you are looking at a citation in a database (like RILM), it will fill in some of the information for you.

Free online resources

  • Internet Broadway Database (IBDB)

    “The official database for Broadway theatre information.” Searchable by show, personnel, theatre, character, song, season. A work in progress.

  • Guide to Musical Theatre

    Lists of shows with their synopses, identifying the rights owners, shows suitable for minors, partial-restriction shows, compilation shows.

  • Musicals 101

    A good all-purpose resource; informative and entertaining. Especially good for historical overviews, histories of theaters, and biographical sketches.

  • Stage Agent is dedicated to the performers and producers of musicals, plays, and operas.” Highlights include the interactive “PartFinder” to locate appropriate roles for a particular voice part and a monologue search feature. Note: lots of ads appear.


    Database of recordings of stage, film, and TV musicals and show tunes by show title, song, record label. Specifies type of recording (stage cast, concert, compilation, etc.) and commercial availability. As of August 2012 the database contains information for over 7,200 shows and 22,700 recordings.

Finding streaming audio

Listening to music online through the UB Libraries: NAXOS Music Library

To get to NAXOS: UB Libraries—Find Library Resources—Resources by Subject—Music—Databases

Naxos has a feature that lets you browse by genre. “Musicals” is its own category under Classical Music. You can also search for the title of a musical or song. NAXOS includes many musicals, some complete and some songs in collections, and many albums include pdfs of the booklets (the albums in NAXOS were originally released as CDs) that can include complete lyrics and other information. In some cases there is even a link right to the song texts.

Remember to log out when you are done.

Finding content using the Libraries’ Catalog to find Books, Scores, Videos, and Recordings at the UB Libraries

Libraries’ Catalog for UB materials

Or go to UB Libraries—Find Library Materials—Catalog—Full Catalog

There are lots of different ways to search for something, and if you are aware of a few different methods you have a better chance of finding what you are looking for.

Finding books about musicals

Besides browsing the shelves, you can look in the catalog. This is useful, because books can only be in one place on the shelf, but can be about many topics or aspects or a single topic. The catalog record covers all of these and tells you where the book is.

Method 1: Subject searches

“Subjects” in the library catalog are from a list of terms assigned by libraries to describe what a book is about (or what kind of music a score, CD, or video is). Subjects can be ideas, places, people, performers, or works of music, literature, or art.

Pros: They bring together books on a topic regardless of what particular terms are used in book’s title or contents or what language the book is in. (“Musical theater” as a subject includes books that may contain either spelling “theatER” or “theatRE.” In their titles.

Cons: The exact terms don’t always match how we would describe those topics in everyday conversation so it can be hard to guess/know what term to use. If a book covers all different topics, a precise subject might not be assigned. Subjects can be very specific but the book might touch on broader topics.

1a. Subject keywords

Go to Advanced Search

Limit Format: Books

Subject keywords: Musicals

This will get you a lot of results, some of which are about musicals in general and some of which are very specific. If one book in your results looks particularly useful, click on the title to see more information. You can then see all of the subjects used for that book and use the links to get to other books with that subject.

1b. Subject browse

Search option Browse

By Topic

Here are some commonly used subjects for books about musicals. Phrases after the dashes are subdivisionssubtopics within one subjectand can sometimes be combined in different orders. Usually the subtopics are places, topics, or descriptions of the kind of book (or score).



Musicals—[name of place] [e.g. Musicals—New York (State)—New York]

Musicals—History and criticism

Musicals—[place]—History and criticism

Musicals—Production and directions

Musicals—Stories, plots, etc.

Musical theater… {Note: Music Theater as a subject is something very different.}


[Composer and title for works about a single musical]

Method 2: Keyword search

Go to advanced search if you want to limit format to books or other formats

This is just like a subject keyword search except you are looking for your search words in any part of the catalog record. All Fields searches find words anywhere in the catalog record—subjects, titles, notes about the item, and contents.

All Fields is the default for both basic and advanced searches. If you are looking for more than one word as a phrase (“Broadway musicals” as opposed to anything that has the words “Broadway” and “Musicals”), put your phrase in quotes.

Basic search:

Searching for musicals (scores, CDs, recordings, videos)

Subjects for scores and recordings musicals:

Musicals [recordings and videos]

Musicals—Vocal scores with piano [vocal scores with piano]

Musicals, Excerpts—Vocal scores with piano [selections]

Or search by title (complete musicals) or All Fields with limits (single songs) or title with limits (to get only complete scores, recordings, or videos)

Searching for a musical with a distinct title

The search option Browse is a fine place to start when you are looking for a score, libretto, video, or recording of the entire musical. Leave out articles at the beginning (“The” “A” “Les” [French] etc.) (chorus line, not A chorus line; miserables, not Les misérables)

Searching for songs from musicals

Songs from musicals can be included on many types of recordings other than just cast albums or recordings of the complete musical. Likewise, the printed music may be included in song anthologies and other collections of music. If you are interested in finding other interpretations of songs it is helpful to note that the only statement of the song title may be within a contents note in the catalog. Therefore, it is necessary to do the search for the song title in All Fields rather than as a title. Entering the title as a phrase (using quotes) and limiting your results to a format like music recording or score will save you time sorting through results.

{It is not possible to search for scores and recordings unless you use the Classic catalog’s Music (all) format limit.}

Finding items if they are not on the shelf as indicated

Print Materials: What if you can’t find the book/score on the shelf?

There are several reasons you might not be able to find a book/score on the shelf even after you check the call number in the online catalog. The book/score could be:

  • misshelved
  • in use
  • checked out
  • recently returned and hasn’t made it back yet
  • on reserve
  • in storage
  • (books only) in the Annex or Lockwood

If you can’t find what you are looking for on the shelf, ask for help at the circulation desk. We can interpret quirky call numbers, check locations, and comb the shelves for you, or find an alternate edition if need be.

Finding items not owned by UB

What if we don’t own the score/book I need?

You have access to interlibrary loan, which lets you borrow materials from any participating library. Once you have a citation for the book/score/CD, or find it in WorldCat, you can put a request in through Delivery+. Requests are free. You will need to set up an account the first time you use Delivery+—you need to know your UBit name and password. To get to WorldCat, go to UB Libraries—Find Library Materials—Databases—WorldCat.

The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library has a music collection. You can search their catalog online: UB students are eligible for library cards.

For scores, sometimes alternate editions will do. If you are doing historical research, some public domain scores are online (before 1923).

Where to get help in the UB Libraries

If you need a refresher or additional information on anything we covered in class, or if you have questions when you are working on papers or projects, there are many ways to find us. Don’t worry about who to ask—we’ll make sure we find the answer for you.

People to know at the Libraries

Where to go

Rebecca Belford (Music)
Music Library, Baird Hall
(716) 645-2924

John Bewley (Music)
Music Library, Baird Hall
(716) 645-2924

Music Library
Baird Hall, First Floor